Jeanette has come, and I have left her with the work and fled to my upstairs office to read Brian Doyle’s humorous penetrating moving essays, and have escaped to the yards to trim low shrub runners and pluck crab grass and spray the arborvitae with putrescent eggs spiced with clove oil that mule deer despise, and I beg off from the evening walk to the end of the street and back, my feet aching from a bloody self-pedicure and the day’s hike, content that someone else has come to push the wheelchair. I want to heave at the odor of commercialized rot—I am desperate to deter the deer—and decide to follow a neighbor’s suggestion to cut in half bars of Irish Spring soap, drill a hole in each half, and drape a green perfumed necklace to each faltering arborvitae tree. Nearly half of the trees’ greenery was eaten by deer, and nearly the other half froze and dried and sluffed away, but new green, darker than the soap, richer, is peaking out from what I thought were dead twig ends. A new day, and Sarah has come, and she has rousted Dad from his reading lethargy to come watch the cousins play cards and to coax the cousins out the front door and down the homemade ramps, and Jeanette and Sarah have struck off to the end of the street, Amy aahing at divinely gorgeous flowers. I had followed, too, and waived at Greg, the thirty-three-year veteran retired police officer whose garage walls are speckled with five thousand police agency shoulder patches from all over the U.S. and the world, though he used to have six thousand patches and has sold one-thousand on e-Bay to self-fund a missing dental plan. I shoved off and caught up, and we ended the walk in the back yard on Memorial Day and encouraged Mom and Dad to tell stories of their long lives. Dad’s first memory of his mother came when he shut his finger in the screen door and sprouted tears and a purple blood blister, and Dora cooed and chortled over him and kissed his finger and comforted and promised he would be okay, and Dad decided at that moment in his life that he would be okay. Dad’s first memory of his father came from working outside in the yard, where Owen had a bucket of dirty transmission oil, and where Owen and Owen Jr., the latter only three, each dipped a paint brush in the black oil and slathered it darkly onto the thirsty sun-bleached wood-fence slats, an inexpensive waterproofing stain. Dad’s first memory of Mom was of the church dance when he was 25 and she was 21 and they met and he asked her for her phone number and she willingly gave him her number, and over the coming months he gazed at her often and thought how kind and smart and beautiful she was, and how nice it would be to live a long life together. They have moved inside for ice cream, and I have watered my pumpkin-seed mounds, waiting for sprouts to emerge, upon which I will shave flakes of green soap against the deer.
Yours Truly with sweet sisters Jeanette and Sarah.